The Inverted Forest by John Dalton

The Inverted ForestReviewed by Teri Davis

Sometimes you read a book that is so well written that it haunts you, but the story itself is also so disturbing and unsettling to you that you are not certain if you should recommend it or not. That is my predicament with The Inverted Forest.

The Inverted Forest revolves around a summer camp in rural Missouri. The owners of the camp are a set of bachelors who are also twins. One of the brothers recently suffered a stroke, so the surviving brother is in charge of the camp. Schuller Kindermann would prefer to work on his kirigami in the solitude of his cabin than deal with the day-to-day management issues. For that he depends on a long-time worker who lives there year round caring for the camp.

A group of teenagers has been hired to be counselors for this particular summer. They spend time together readying the camp. Unfortunately, these counselors have a late-night pool party, minus the swimsuits. This causes them to be fired. Schuller Kindermann goes to the nearby community to search for replacements. Unfortunately there is not time for training or background checks. He just takes what he can get for counselors.

Most of the counselors are in the early college stage between the ages of eighteen and twenty. There is one of the counselors that is a little unusual in that his facial features are slightly deformed and he seems backward. That is Wyatt Huddy.

Added to this, the first group for the twelve day camp experience is from the state institution for the mentally disabled. These young inexperienced counselors have had no training in working with individuals with special needs. They were planning to work with children, not adults.

This story adds layer upon layer, mixing good with bad actions. There is intensity within the story that draws you into reading page after page. Whether it is the choices of the characters that appall you or the understanding of their actions, this enthralling novel is definitely an experience that I would prefer to read rather than experience. The intrigue is the humanness and their errors that draws you into this story like a magnet.

John Dalton has also written Heaven Lake which was the winner of the Barnes & Noble 2004 Discover Award and the Sue Kaufman Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, He resides in St. Louis.

Inverted Forest is definitely one of the best written novels of this year. I found myself questioning the characters about their actions. These flawed characters definitely made an intriguing novel.

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